West Kelowna’s bid to promote Westbank town centre growth

The district is looking at offering developers a break on development cost charges to try to spur growth in town centre.

In what it says is an effort to encourage revitalization in the Westbank Centre area, West Kelowna council is considering a reduction in development cost charges for the area.

And the council wants to know what the public thinks about that.

Council gave first, second and third reading to its proposed Westbank Centre Development Cost Charges Reduction Bylaw Jan. 13 and is now seeking public input.

DCCs are charged by municipalities to developers to help pay for capital costs associated with providing and improving public infrastructure.

A DCC reduction, stemming from a recommendation in the Westbank Centre Revitalization Plan, is intended to help accelerate development in the area,which has seen several business leave the area in recent years and little new development replace those that have left.

Part of the exodus has been spurred by the creation of new commercial and retail space nearby on Westbank First Nation Land. In fact, some business have moved out of the Westbank town centre and into premises in the new WFN developments. Other, larger stores, such as Walmart, Winners, London Drugs and the longer established Canadian Tire and Home Depot stores are also helping draw more shoppers away from the businesses in downtown Westbank.

While development on WFN has been welcomed by city officials in the past, saying any development in the larger Westbank area is good because it attracts business overall, the future of downtown Westbank has been called into question because of the lack of investment by developers and little or no development planed for the area.

The municipality has said it plans to build a new municipal hall as part of a larger private development in the area and it has invested in the downtown Westbank area by fixing up some streets and creating a new transit hub.

But there are also problem areas.One that the municipality has heard about loud and clear from the public is the former strip mall that housed the now closed Cattle Country Restaurant. Its owner have let is deteriorate to the point where some consider it an eyesore. Despite that there is no move to demolished the building that are there and clean up the space.

Development industry representatives have advised the District that existing market conditions, coupled with an increase in construction costs, are making it difficult to commence desired projects and have requested that the District explore reductions for certain fees to assist with private sector investment in Westbank Centre.

The city says DCC reduction bylaw would signal the development community that the district strongly supports the creation of a strong economic and social core within the community. Development that occurs within the Westbank Centre boundary that meets certain criteria may be eligible for a DCC reduction according to the draft bylaw. The draft bylaw has been scaled to feature a deeper reduction for higher density, mixed use projects and smaller reductions for projects that propose less density.

The reductions would expire on March 1, 2018, roughly three years from the proposed adoption of the bylaw.

For more information, visit www.districtofwestkelowna.ca/WestbankCentre. Input can be provided by calling Development Services at 778-797-8838, emailing info@districtofwestkelowna.ca or mailing comments to 2760 Cameron Road, West Kelowna, BC V1Z 2T6.



Kelowna Capital News